Read His Words Before Ours!
I was hit with a shockwave of truth as the words struck my heart.
I had just, never… yeah, how could I not have seen that before?
It makes so much sense.
We cannot forgive like God does.
Can. Not. Period.
The old adage came quickly to mind, “forgive and forget”, based on the Bible verse in Psalms, “as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your trespass from you.”
But what if, like those pricking words suggested, I couldn’t forgive like that?
What if I couldn’t forget?
What if the wound still hurt?
“We cannot forgive like God does.”
The prophet known for running from God had a huge problem with forgiveness.
Oh, he received it well enough.
Asked for it.
Pleaded for it.
But when it came to those Jonah himself held something against,
forgiveness didn’t make the short list of qualified responses.
When I think of the Assyrians of Nineveh, I think of the Nazis.
Unrivaled brutality and cruelty.
An enemy with an agenda of death and a lust for power.
Everyone knew about the Assyrians in Jonah’s day. Everyone feared them, and just about everyone had personally been affected by their brutality or knew someone who had. If there was any cruelty that was difficult, or even humanly impossible to forgive, it was the Assyrian’s. Much like Hitler and his unspeakable acts of inhumane violence.
And Jonah wanted none of it – forgiving them that is.
He knew God was gracious.
He knew God was merciful.
He had experienced God’s forgiveness for himself and his people.
But he didn’t want his enemies to have that same forgiveness.
How I wish I couldn’t relate,
but I can.
The wounds of those closest to us,
hurt the most,
how our hearts run away from forgiveness!
Just Like Jonah.
Sit with me a moment. Slow.
Give your heart permission to see and feel those hurts.
Those moments, frozen forever inside,
…..and we run..
Furiously screaming, nooo. God, no.
I know You are forgiving.
I know You are kind.
But not them.
Don’t make me forgive.
And there it is.
“Don’t make *me* forgive.”
There’s something convicting about the Holy and Righteous and Blameless One forgiving an offense, a mountain of unthinkable offenses, that calls our hearts to action.
“Forgive others as I have forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
It’s one thing for the far off distant God to be forgiving,
but don’t make me the messenger.
Our hearts pull away at the pain.
Don’t make me live out forgiveness.
Pick someone else, God.
He saw the wickedness of the Assyrians,
and oh how He hated it.
He saw grievous acts of murder, torture, pride, and no regard for human life.
Make no mistake, the Lord God hated what the Assyrians were doing.
He looked at my sin.
He looked at Jonah’s.
and oh how He hated it.
He saw the gossip I’ve spoken, the lies I’ve told, the shame I’ve inflicted, the way I’ve treated others as if I had no regard for their hearts.
Make no mistake, the Lord God hated the sin I committed, the sins from 20 years ago, and the sins from 20 minutes ago.
But because nothing catches the All-Knowing God off guard,
He also knew the Assyrians could turn.
He knew they could repent.
More so, He knew they would if they were chased.
And He wanted to be the One they would turn to.
He was willing to relentlessly chase them,
even in their sin,
even before they asked forgiveness,
because the beauty of restored relationship was worth it to Him.
In the same way He chased the Assyrians,
He chased me and you, even in our sin, even before we ask forgiveness,
because the beauty of restored relationship is worth it to Him.
Oh no, the Lord’s forgiveness is not like ours.
We see the offense, and we follow our first instinct.
But if we dare, to pause, to slow, to breathe, to look into the face of the Savior,
we see that He Can.
And then, like a rush, it floods over us, or sometimes it dribbles down like drops of grace oiling our heart of stone: forgiveness.
Forgiveness that looks a whole lot more like God’s than it does like ours.
The Father who calls me Beloved, never should have.
Because of my sin.
But, oh the tears, because HE DID!
He Gave Chase.
The beauty of intimacy was worth it to Him.
He knew I would turn if I was pursued,
and instead of running away and screaming no,
He ran In, and said YES.
Yes, beloved, Yes.
Yes, I forgive you.
Yes, I see your sin.
Yes, I am still here.
Just what if we caught what Jonah missed?
What if instead of running, we turned around?
What if we acknowledging to Jesus the depth of our wounds,
confessing that no, we can’t forgive that offense, our human heart is too small,
yet in the very same breath we turn pleading eyes to Jesus, but You can! Help Me!
Relationships are worth it.
The healing of our hearts is worth it.
To be like Jesus?
It’s worth it!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!